Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Camera Finds - Pink Lady Slipper

I emptied my partner's camera of all pictures that had been taken and stored in order to free up memory space, and came up with these from back in April. These were taken behind the old log cabin that I use to store old pots and garden stuff for the winter. Here's a fact sheet from the University of Wisconsin on Cypripedium acaule, Pink Lady Slipper. I found this part on how they get pollinated interesting:

Bumblebees are lured into the pouch of the labellum through the slit in the front, attracted by the bright color and sweet scent of the flower. Once inside, they find no reward, and discover that they are trapped--with only one point of escape. Inside the pouch, there are hairs which lead to a pair of openings, one beneath each pollen mass. First, however, the bee must pass under the stigma, so if it bears any pollen from a visit to another flower, it will be deposited before picking up a fresh load, thus preventing self-pollination.
Unfortunately, the bees quickly learn from their experiences and soon avoid C. acaule flowers. Thus, like several other orchids in our flora, they are dependent on naive bees, and generally experience very low pollination rates (Davis 1986).
I'm not sure if it's the seeming cunning of the flower, or the learning process of the bee that impresses me more.

I hope that sometime in the future, we'll establish a Spring Native Ephemeral Garden in the Wildlife area when the trees get large enough to create the right habitat.
UPDATE: Here's a scientific paper on the learning ability of honeybees. Google "naive bees" for more fascinating reading.

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